Text from: http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/insanely-clever-gifts-for-book-lovers
For the meticulous type who wants to mark exactly which line they left off reading.
For pages that demand to be kept flat (especially during times of food and/or booze consumption).
For the person who needs help distinguishing between the teetering pile of books on their bedside table.
For the slightly pretentious yet endearingly immature.
For the daydreamers who need a quick hit at work or school or wherever they happen to be (many titles available).
Rating: 3.5 stars
I haven't googled, but I'm guessing this was Julie Kagawa's first book? I've made this hypothesis because although I found the beginning slow and uneven, there were still elements of awesome. It was almost like I could feel her finding her pacing as the story wore on.
What I liked: Some great secondary characters (Grim! Puck!), a potential love triangle (which isn't a bad thing in my eyes), nice romantic tension between the main characters, and a confused, genuine female protagonist who is funny and brave. Lots of room to grow here.
What wasn't great: Too many fae elements introduced all at once. I found Meghan's first couple of days in the Nevernever a bit confusing. I also wished her relationship with Robbie was more established before their adventure began. I know he was supposed to be her BFF, but I wasn't really well connected to them as friends before things changed. Also, the ending and events leading up to it seemed a foregone conclusion. I mean didn't anyone else (view spoiler)
Overall? I can't wait to dig into this series as this first book promises an entertaining, well written fae and fantasy adventure.
I don't know what it is about this type of NA novel that allows me to tear through them so quickly. I started on Saturday morning and ended up finishing Sunday night, well within reasonable bedtime limits. There's something that just so effortless about these stories. A Little Too Far falls within the category I typically label "Brain Candy". It's not an insult, but alludes to the level of critical thinking I need to bring to the table while enjoying the characters and their escapades. It typically also means the writing didn't stand in the way of the story, which can be a good thing. I like simple, straightforward writing for the most part, and since there's absolutely nothing memorable about the actual exposition, I'm going to say it was decently written.
What I liked most: Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Well written smut is hard to come by and A Little Too Far didn't disappoint. As an aside, where were all of these female-pleasure-centric dudes when I was young? The sexy times scenes were pretty hot and thankfully, not at all marred by the BDSM that seems all the rage right now (and is not my sexual cup of tea). I wasn't put off by the almost-not-really incest (maybe because I've never had a step-brother?) and I thought Trent and Lexie had some decent chemistry. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of smut-shaming and girl-bashing that is rampant in NA, although I did think Lexie was pretty hard on herself from time to time. Although I didn't always understand what Alessandro saw in Lexie, I did think their relationship was intriguing and there were some genuinely funny moments in their friendship. Refreshing to see a well-functioning blended family too. No wicked stepmothers in this book, which I was thankful for.
What I didn't like: Both of Lexie's girlfriends seemed egocentric and shallow. Apparently the primary reason girls have friends is to encourage sex with random strangers. They were all like "More with the sex" instead of "How are you?" and "Are you homesick?" which would be probably be more likely. I'm yearning for a well written female friendship and I didn't find one here. I was also a bit confused about the religious elements introduced. The amount of detail included in the storyline led me to think that there would be some religious interpretations or a deeper exploration of Lexie's religious beliefs, but in the end it just seemed like the author was really familiar with confession and wanted to make sure we knew it. Finally, I found the romantic tension between Lexie and her suitors a bit flat. Although the chemistry was okay, I didn't swoon with feels over the lovey-dovey parts. I wanted more feels. And (view spoiler)
Overall: A decent, not very cerebral read. Wasn't blown away by the romance, but I appreciated the smut for what it was. I'd possibly pick up the next in the series for a beach read.
I haven't read much fairy tale themed YA and I'm not sure that fairy tale retellings are my thing (although I am really getting into Once Upon a Time). At any rate, I was underwhelmed by this one. I had a hard time keeping track of the secondary characters and who was supposed to be who in terms of curses. And I didn't feel particularly surprised by any of the characters' actions, the climax, or the resolution at the end. I could tell that, fairy tale styles, all would be mostly Happily Ever After.
What I did really like was the relationship that developed between Mira and Blue. A lot of the dialogue between them felt sharp and real and I kind of fell for him too. I also liked Freddie and was glad that Mira tried to be kind to him, when she remembered.
My verdict. It was okay. Some nice moments between the main characters, but the plot and pacing left me feeling a bit distant from the story. I'd definitely try this author again as the writing was solid, but I'm not sure I'd pick up another book in this series, if there is one.
Also? For some reason I can't figure out, I really don't like this title. I don't feel like it suits this book. Cursed would have worked for me, or something similar.
I hate not knowing. I've steered clear of this one given some of the reviews written by people whose judgement I trust. But curiosity killed the damn cat. It was available from my local library for download and so…I'm going in. Wish me luck.
Well, I promised you navel gazing and it seems I'll deliver. Here's what I'm pondering today.
1. I like reviewing books, mostly because I love reading so much that discussing books is a close second. Only I've never been successful at turning off the portion of my brain that is pretty critical. And so my ratings are, at times, reflective of that critical voice in my head. Not of authors (sidestepping that land mine) but of plot and character and theme. But I'm worried. Can I keep reviewing as a writer promoting her own writing? Is there something inherently hypocritical about straddling both sides of the fence? Or do I need to pick up my poms-poms and cheer for those who write? Am I over thinking this?
2. GIFS! A lot of debate in my real life in the last couple of days if this is pronounced "Gif" as in giraffe or "Gif" as in gift. Hopelessly uncool, I was saying G-I-F, which I've been told is unequivocally wrong. At any rate, I've just learned how to use them and finally understand what tumblr is for. This is proof (for me, at any rate), that I'm still young enough to be considered hip. Or I'm Phil Dunphy.
3. The Raven Boys. This book is blowing my mind. Mostly because it's changing how I feel about writing. I love the way Maggie Stiefvater writes. LOVE. And I'm usually more partial to story and characters than writing. Her writing is gorgeous and evocative and makes me want to curl up into a ball and pour myself between the pages of the book. It makes me want to be a better writer.
4. Red wine and chocolate. That is all.
5. I've been in a monogamous relationship for a long time. A really long time. I'm committed to this relationship as I happen to have an amazing husband who turned out to be pretty kick ass father to boot. Nothing to complain about here. Except that last night while writing about oxytocin and virgins (see http://tangledinpages.blogspot.ca) I realized that this might be one of the reasons I love YA so much. That maybe I'm looking to recreate the excitement that I felt so very long ago and clearly will never really feel again.
I don't have a lot of free time these days. What free time I do have is split between reading, writing, and catching up on a few of my favourite TV shows (hello, TVD). Lately, it seems that writing and promoting Unbound has taken up a greater share of the time pie than usual and there are so many amazing books I can't wait to get my hands on. I'm hoping to spend a good portion of my holidays with my nose stuck in many of these titles.
1. World After by Susan Ee. Have you read Angelfall yet? Please tell me you have. Penryn and Raffe are fast becoming my OTP.
2. The Iron King by Julie Kagwa. Have no idea why I haven't picked this up yet. So many great reviews.
3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Fangirl. I'm hoping I will love E & P just as much. Everyone else has so my hopes are quite high.
4. Covenant Series by JL Armentrout. Another series that seems to have fallen outside of my radar. I love finding a great series that has so many books written. It means I can go back to back.
5. Unteachable by Leah Raeder. If the reviews are to be believed, I'll need to make sure to start this when I don't have to get up early the next morning. This has "stay up all night" written all over it.
6. Dare You To and Crash into You by Katie McGarry. Pushing the Limits was one of my favourite contemporary picks of 2013. I've been trying to avoid all of the gushing on goodreads so as not to spoil my experience with these two.
7. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. This was a fun summer read. I'm hoping for good things from the sequel.
8. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I know, right? I'm like the last person on earth to read this book.
9. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Great write up. I'm intrigued.
10. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I haven't been put off too badly by the sh-t storm surrounding the last book. Not expecting much but I'm too stubborn to leave the series unfinished.
*Wait! I just realized that I've left off These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman. Consider this one added.
So let's give this a whirl (yuk yuk yuk).
What I liked: Decent world building and a female protagonist (Kendra) that was tough and intelligent. I liked the male romantic interest too (Although, a seal? Really, a seal?), and thought they had good, if sporadic, chemistry. I also liked the kind of bat-shit crazy magic mentor and the network of women that Kendra could call on for support. Some demerit points for the whole 2D mean girl thing. It felt like filler.
What I had trouble with: Keeping the who-what-which race thing straight. At the end of the story I still wasn't sure what the difference was between a chevalier and a demmellier. And I kept forgetting who was who among the adults who seemed like props for our main character's actions. I also had some difficulty with the pacing as it felt like things were getting started about halfway through. Although it was a good solid introduction, I didn't feel like it was a story unto itself.
Overall verdict: A decent, if not super-orginal YA that didn't get on my nerves. I'd consider picking up the next book in the series.
I'm stingy with stars. My ratings typically reflect my overall enjoyment level, rather than the quality of the writing, or the merits of the story. This means that depending on my mood, I can get swept away by a great storyline with sh-tty writing, or fall in love with a character or a couple who sometimes act in ways I don't connect with. Or I might just be in the mood for a good trashy way to escape my own experiences. Books that receive a solid five stars work on every level, whereas books around a two or three mean that some things weren't happening for me.
The Edge of Never didn't work for me overall, but it had a few of the things I really like in a romance. First, I thought Cam and Andrew had good chemistry that developed over time and their relationship felt genuine. I liked some of the banter between them and how she was able to hold her own. I also love me some good smut and TheEdge of Never delivered. Well, sort of. Perhaps Cam's sexual awakening felt a bit forced or Andrew's insistence on "owning" more like a plot device, but there was some heat I could appreciate. I had more of a problem with the slut-shaming that seemed rampant throughout the storyline and the inherent double standard about "slutty girls" who sleep around. The mixed message I took away was"Say what you feel" and "Own your sexuality" BUT "Only within these defined limits of what is not slutty." God forbid a girl's sexual appetites fall outside of her partner's parameters.
On the negative side, the writing wasn't strong (particularly the first few chapters) and the dual POV felt awkward and repetitive, at times. Cam's relationship with her BFF was perplexing to me. I couldn't understand why this person was her friend and not just because of the incident on the roof. She just didn't seem like a likeable person or a particularly supportive friend. And I got bored. Near the end, I felt like the story dragged and I started to skim until I ran into a couple of WTF events that felt like "okay - let's wrap this up. Ending's coming".
Final verdict: Nice chemistry and some good character development with some flaws that kept me from really sinking into the story.
"Anyway, why is it always a triangle? Why isn't it a square or an octagon?"
Franny Banks ~ Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
This feels like a dangerous post. I know some people feel very strongly about love triangles. In fact, some people speak about them with a vehemence that is typically reserved for cockroaches. And since all of my posts seem to be of a confessional nature, I'll stay true to form and admit it: I like love triangles. *ducks as fellow book nerds throw things at her*
I know, I know. Love triangles are overused and too often portray girls and women as too helpless to make decisions in their lives. And it seems that every other up and coming YA book throws a love triangle in, sometimes seemingly as an afterthought or a selling feature. And, of course, there was that love triangle, the one that had the world divided between Werewolves and Vampires. I blame that love triangle for giving other love triangles a bad name.
But I think love triangles, well executed, can do wonderful things for a story. A love triangle represents the dialectic in all of us. The acknowledgement that we have multiple and sometimes conflicting needs. In our attempts at regret management, we pretend that we can be certain of our choices. But most of our decisions, particularly the ones related to love and relationships, are so rarely straightforward. Some small part of us always regrets the path not taken, the boy not kissed, the journey never begun. But a love triangle demands a choice, forces us to choose one over the over. Demands certainty when none exists.
"Look, the romance in these movies, it's not supposed to be some sort of dark mystery. It's a conceit, a way to show different sides of the main character, what she's struggling with. It's a way to make an internal struggle dramatic. People see themselves in that struggle. They keep using that structure because it's familiar to most people and makes sense to them." Dan ~ Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
Taken at face value, love triangles can be silly and vain. And too often they are used to showcase a person's desirability, in the lamest sort of show, don't tell kind of way. But if we look a bit deeper, love triangles acknowledge that in love, the choices we make are mutually exclusive. In the right context, they are symbolic of the risk that accompanies those choices. And the sadness and anguish we feel when we let go of one thing we need in order to hold
on to another.
It's everything you wanted, it's everything you don't
It's one door swinging open and one door swinging closed
Ross Cooperman - Holdin On and Letting Go
Ten Notable Love Triangles
King Arthur, Lancelot, & Guinevere - I am such a sucker for this one. Love, and tragedy, honour and duty. I think of this as the template for so many modern day love triangles. The choice between loyalty and passion. For a lovely interpretation of this love triangle - see Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry.
Angela, Jordan Catalano & Brian (MSCL) - Why did this show end when it did? Why?! The boy next door versus the boy we can't have (or doesn't want us). My heart used to ache for Brian and just when Angela had begun to look at him in a new way…cancelled.
Andy, Ducky & Blaine (Pretty in Pink) - Right? We all loved Ducky getting his Otis Redding on. But we knew, didn't we? That he wasn't going to be the one she kissed in the parking lot.
Buffy, Angel & Spike (Buffy) - Notable for the lack of emphasis on the triangle. But it was there. Even after he left, Angel's presence was felt in every Buffy/Spike interaction. He was the one Spike would never live up to and Spike was the one Buffy settled for in his absence. It was painful to watch.
Elena, Stefan & Damon (TVD) - arguably one of the most hotly debated triangles on television. Delena and Stelena have created shippers that are rabid in their devotion for one pairing over the other. Kudos to Julie Plec for continuing to give each side some satisfaction even though a (new) choice was made. Just for the record though, I'm Delena all the way.
Veronica Mars, Logan, & Piz (VMars) - More fist shaking at universe. Why TV gods? Why did you take VMars away from us before we were done with her? The upcoming movie is apparently heavy on Piz versus Logan. Classic nice guy versus bad boy. I like nice guys, but I'm still Logan Echolls (swoon) all the way.
Katniss, Gale & Peta (The Hunger Games) - Am I the only one who didn't like how the movie interpreted the Katniss-Peta relationship? Maybe I'm naive, but I really thought there was something other than survival in her connection to Peta. I liked to think of Peeta as the boy who was so kind, deep down, she didn't believe she deserved him.
Clary, Jace & Simon (The Mortal Instrument Series) - More good guy versus bad guy. I'll admit that I liked the relationship between Clary and Jace. Nice tension, until, well, my quiver was doused by the whole incest thing.
Jehane, Rodrigo & Ammar (Lions of Al-Rassan) - Now this, THIS is a love triangle done well. Both men of worth and a woman who can stand on her own with or without them. Guy Gavriel Kay writes women so beautifully. Smart and funny, and accomplished. If you like High Fantasy, The Lions of Al-Rassan is a gem.
Elayne, Min, Aviendha, & Rand (The Wheel of Time Series) - This one is just silly. An actual love rectangle. And I although I've tried twice, I run out of steam around book eight. It's just too much.
Archie, Betty & Veronica (Archie Comics) - I was so confused by this love triangle as a kid. Why on earth would anybody like Veronica? She was such a mean girl. And Betty was kind and funny and pretty. Truly Archie - why the indecision?
Who did I miss? Let me know which triangle you love. Or love to hate. Or just plain hate.